Interview with Hananel Ben Khalifa, Company Agronomist and Field Expert for Israel OriGene Seeds.
Interview following an open day at the ‘Ayn Tamar’ fields at which new watermelon varieties were displayed.
OriGene Seeds was founded by Dr. Eyal Vardi in 2004. It develops and sells innovative hybrid vegetable seeds excelling in quality, taste, flavour, uniformity, high nutrition values and shelf life, which are also high yield and environmentally friendly. It specialises in cucurbitaceae such as watermelons, melons, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. It is a quintessentially Israeli company. All varieties are hybrid and developed in Israel at its Origen Seeds R&D station in Bnei Darom.
In addition to developing new varieties, OriGene Seeds acclimatises diverse varieties to various growing conditions and to the individual grower’s requirements, such as growing season, established agrotechnics and changing soil conditions, while constantly seeking new, groundbreaking varieties.
OriGene Seeds also unceasingly researches yield potential and marketing alternatives in order to adapt varieties precisely to regions and to market requirements.
Export – OriGene Seeds exports its products worldwide. Some varieties are appropriate and others are adapted to market requirements and demand. “We endeavour to select varieties matched to various overseas’ regions. We have learned how to respond accurately to the needs of our diverse global clientele, and to market and demand requirements – dark or light colour, seeded or seedless. Demand aside, we have also to relate to agrotechnical aspects when adapting varieties, such as irrigation methods and soil types.”
The open day for new varieties was held in late March at Kikar Sdom (Dead Sea Region) for the benefit of local watermelon growers.
About four years ago a new seedless watermelon variety, Maxima TM, was introduced which quickly took the market by storm and offered many advantages: dark red flesh colour, better taste, size and shelf life, together with better yields per hectare and cultivation cost savings. Its drawback was that it could not benefit from early Arava planting in Israel’s climate since it is planted as from March.
Three new varieties were displayed at the open day: B12157 / 6051B / C12157, which possess vital parameters for March planting: plant strength, good hormonal setting response, early ripening and yield quantities – highly important early planting attributes: Arava – November, Beit She’an – December and Jordan Valley – January.
The new varieties were displayed at the open day in model greenhouse, enabling growers to observe the new OriGene seedless watermelon varieties compared to the currently cultivated seedless watermelon varieties in the Arava and particularly the fruit quality, i.e. its crisp texture, its lycopene rich dark red colour and its high yield.
Some growers have already shown keen interest in the new OriGene seedless watermelons and are seeking to cultivate them commercially in the coming season.
OriGene Seeds wishes to thank Yoel Ben Ayun in whose field the observation took place.